On Wednesday my almost-four-year-old will finish a year at nursery. He's my eldest, and I've been astonished by lots of things this year - how filthy a jumper can get in three hours, how we always end up screeching at each other before the school run, no matter how early we get up - but the biggest surprise has been this.
Teachers really, genuinely find the space to care about their kids.
Despite the fact that you have your own homes and families to look after. Despite the fact that you're always drowning in paperwork and curriculum changes. You have looked after my boy (and lots like him) as though he were yours.
Do you know what that means to us? He's been happy, every day. He's made friends. You've sent him home excited about nocturnal animals, Chinese New Year, building a wall with bricks and mortar. You've taught him to hold a pen, plant a seed, and jump further and higher than he ever thought he could.
I quickly learned that I didn't need to worry if he didn't get to the loo in time, because you would change him discreetly and compassionately. If he hurt himself you would soothe him and find him an ice pack for a bump that probably didn't need it. You have built him up and reinforced his wobbly confidence. You've let him know what's acceptable and what's not, with quiet, kind authority.
I could see that you cared about him, really and truly. It has reminded me how special teachers are.
So on Wednesday, when he says goodbye to you and to this year for good, I'll have a little tear in my eye. Because he's growing up, yes. But also because we'll miss you. Because no one else could have done for him what you've done. You've been a much-loved part of our everyday life, and now we have to move on.
You have the power to make a child's life better. In September you'll start all over again. With a brand new set of kids who'll look up to you, and come looking for you when they need an ice pack or a few words of encouragement.
And as a mother of one of those kids, I can only say, from the bottom of my heart: thank you.
Thank you. Thank you.